Highly transparent, flexible, and thermally stable superhydrophobic ORMOSIL aerogel thin films
We report preparation of highly transparent, flexible, and thermally stable superhydrophobic organically modified silica (ORMOSIL) aerogel thin films from colloidal dispersions at ambient conditions. The prepared dispersions are suitable for large area processing with ease of coating and being directly applicable without requiring any pre- or posttreatment on a variety of surfaces including glass, wood, and plastics. ORMOSIL films exhibit and retain superhydrophobic behavior up to 500 °C and even on bent flexible substrates. The surface of the films can be converted from superhydrophobic (contact angle of 179.9°) to superhydrophilic (contact angle of <5°) by calcination at high temperatures. The wettability of the coatings can be changed by tuning the calcination temperature and duration. The prepared films also exhibit low refractive index and high porosity making them suitable as multifunctional coatings for many application fields including solar cells, flexible electronics, and lab on papers. © 2011 American Chemical Society.